Questioning God …is that OK??

[Originally posted by Karen Dixon on 8 December 2015]

Today’s Readings: Habakkuk 2:2-20 & 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Ever overheard a conversion of significant proportion; a conversation that has such major ramifications it will impact a nation? Can’t say that I have …. and not sure I ever want to either!!!

Reading Habakkuk is like listening in on a very significant private one-on-one conversation but interestingly, what we read in Habakkuk is not so much about a revelation of prophesy to be shared with God’s people as in other prophetic books, but rather, it’s more about eves dropping in on a very frank and honest conversation between a prophet who because of his security in relationship, is prepared to ask BOLD questions of his God.

And Habakkuk for us, highlights that we are no different today than those who have gone before us; an honest reflection of a mirror to the soul of the struggle that is a cry from the heart; yes, a deep and authentic questioning of God of what we see continuing to happen around us today …

God, how can such evil happen in our world?

God, why do you allow such godless people to rule nations, when you God, are the ruler of ALL nations?

And the lesson for us … if we are honest and candid in out questions, God will answer our genuine plea.

It’s easy to skim across the passages of the Lord’s answer, but there is significance in his opening comment.

“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Hab 2:2

For Habakkuk, the medium (tablets) were the norm for the day, but what it meant was that God’s response would be LASTING. In our disposable world; in a world where technology allows things to be so easily replaced, for Habakkuk, this was about recording something that would firstly take time to record (just imagine what it took to carve out the tablet of stone) and secondly, it would be a lasting reminder that others would ‘run with’.

As God goes on to remind Habakkuk of all the ‘woes’ that will unfold; the knowledge of the coming judgement of the wicked  … suddenly there is an oasis in the midst of the gloom …

‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’  Vs14

And then in verse 20 …. ‘But the Lord IS in his holy temple; let ALL the earth be silent before him’.

If we fast forward to Corinthians, how profound the words of Paul. Paul’s words that would have spoken volumes if they could have been spoken to Habakkuk at his time in history; words that at a time when he dialogued with God, would have encouraged him to remain faithful to the call on his life. In the same way Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth; in the same way we can be encouraged; in the same way Habakkuk would have been encouraged …

‘Therefore my dear brother(s) – and sisters – stand firm. (Habakkuk, stay true to the call God has on your life)

Let NOTHING (and I mean nothing) move you. ALWAYS give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord, BECAUSE you KNOW that your labour in the Lord is NOT in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

Habukkuk, dear brother in Christ, thank you for your honesty and faithfulness. Thank you for the legacy you have left us. Thank you that we know of life we hold to because of Jesus …

‘But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’  1 Corinthians 15:57

On the almost eve of Christmas … on the eve as we celebrate the birth of God’s incredible plan of salvation of mankind, how good to be reminded of this victory!

May you, like me, take time to stop … enjoy … rejoice … and remember that moment when you discovered this truth and promise.

May we never stop being amazed at God’s response to Habakkuk …

‘ … I am about to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.’  Hab 1:5

KD

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I am Christ’s.

[Originally posted by Glenn Murray on 4 December 2015]

FDR part 2 for Fr 04/12/2015.

Following on from my blog and exercise this morning titled: :”Why I am Christ’s” I was able to produce a short list that reminded me of these briefly described reasons: Reasons why I am Christ’s.

Amazement.  Mouth open,  chin on the floor Amazement.  Still.

Learning as a farm boy about all that is life through a child’s eyes.  Seasons,  growing food crops and annimals,  using it for ourselves and selling it for others.  Understanding how the world works as a physical entity.

Regular Sunday School and church attendance where I heard the accounts of the bible and its people.  Then late in primary school a locum minister,  an ex-army chaplain,  who could show us copies of paintings of the crucifixion in its different stages.  Pictures beyond belief that conveyed the scene as it probably occurred . Pictures that visually fitted around the biblical words I knew.

A journey.  From calm to turgid, and back and very challenging.  But accompanied with a great sense of peace and being held in God’s hands.

Nothing stops.  The learning continues.   The journey continues.

God’s people always nearby.  Some sail in and out of my life as God wills. Always for some purpose.   And yet many come along for longer periods,  including my family.  In this current season I find myself at a home-like place working alongside and with my FAC colleagues.

Healing and refining.  I don’t expect to ever tire of seeing my brothers and sisters healed by God.  Some in so terrible a place that no earthly medicine or process will ever produce a cure.  I too am healed in ways I have not expected.  Yet we go on in faith and hope. I learn again the lesson of our God who loves us beyond description.

These are the lasting things; God’s love for me as a sinner before HIm and yet I believe the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and  resurrection for our sins.  From this gift of Jesus to atone for my sinning behaviour comes my faith and hope in everlasting life.

I remain amazed.

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

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Families, old and new

[Originally posted by Glenn Murray on 6 April 2017]

1 Corinthians 4

 

Peter Clark has pointed out to us how Paul chides the Corinthians and this chiding continues in today’s New Testament reading as Paul goes on to deride those who have puffed themselves up. That is, to hold themselves as more important and more of a Christian than they really are.

Timothy is being sent to the Corinthians to carry out a form of remedial teaching.  Paul’s anger at their behaviour shows as finally he asks if he should bring a stick when he comes to them (v21) or a spirit of gentleness.

What are we to conclude?

The ancient family, Israel, was sent away into exile because it could not serve and honour God faithfully.  The new covenant family is to be punished too for becoming ‘puffed up’ and against one another.

Do we understand that God is a God of judgement and punishment in the face of our sinfulness?  Do we understand that God expects us to be obedient to Him and follow the teaching of the Apostles whom Jesus chose to commission?

What do you understand God expects of you and I?

May the Lord show us all where we have fallen down so that we may seek His forgiveness and mercy and walk in His paths.

Glenn

The Folly of Insolent Men

[originally posted by glennblackley on 14 November 2015]

Insolent – showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect

Todays reading comes from Jeremiah 43.

It would not be a pleasant thing to be told to your face that you are a liar by a hostile audience, but that is the reaction Jeremiah receives in response to the message that he delivers from the Lord (refer back to Jeremiah 42).

It was a message that the prominent leaders Azariah and Johanan and “all the insolent men” did not want to hear. The accusations fly.

As a servant of God, Jeremiah wasn’t the first to receive such treatment and he won’t be the last. David is another who also faced the oppression of the insolent (refer Psalm 54:3 and Psalm 86:15).

In this instance, the insolent men win the day and in verse 4 we are told:

So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah.

This is a tragic verse – the descendants of Isaac and Jacob choose to return to Egypt as a defeated, hopeless remnant nearly 900 years after their liberation from it and poor Jeremiah and Baruch are dragged along with them.

As KD posted yesterday – “obedience results in blessing; disobedience results in punishment.”

The punishment for this disobedience that they will receive is acted out when they arrive at Pharaoh’s palace in another of Jeremiah’s visual prophecies (v8-13). They won’t escape the might of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies there either – death, captivity, and destruction await.

While the temple of the sun in Egypt will be demolished (v13), in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul urges his readers to act maturely and lay aside their petty divisions in order to build up God’s temple.  Insolence/arrogance has no place in the church as Paul writes:

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness”, 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

 

Finishing well

Today’s (Mo 05/06/2017) FDR readings are 1 Chronicles 27 and 1 Corinthians 16

The Chronicles reading today from chapter 27 is about finishing well. At this point David’s kingdom is in a fairly good state and here we see the numbers counted for the army, those in charge of agriculture and provisions, and those in charge of various responsibilities with the King’s Court. But you may recall that there was a problem when David decided to count the army. Verse 24 just gives us a hint of what that problem was.  This comment links through to 2 Samuel 24 where we read reports that David chose to ask for the census of the fighting men. This appears to have represented a glorying in human power and not the power of the Lord.

However as you’ll see with tomorrow’s reading this appears just before the Ark was moved into the rebuilt temple and so there is an opportunity here for David to have relied on himself and the nations that he ruled, rather than God. God’s judgement and the punishment meted out is also referred to in 2 Samuel 24.

 

In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul is trying to close off his fairly critical letter to the Corinthians. If you’ve been a teacher, coach, parent, or some other supervisor of people, after admonitions and criticisms and answers to difficult problems, it is difficult to round off and finish well. As we mentor people in our spheres of influence, including our brothers and sisters in Christ, we may have critical or direct things to say.  We want to balance our criticisms with some supportive or encouraging finish while still maintaining our stand on the correction that we’ve asked for. Not just to make it work but to make it work so that the outcomes glorifies our God.

Paul uses three things here that are not extremely important nor not particularly critical, but things that directs the attention onto other matters. (i) He writes about   finances and what needs to be done before he gets there, (ii) he mentions some personal arrangements and his visiting plans, and finally (iii) he finishes by acknowledging God working among Christians.

As we serve each other we too must remember that we have a responsibility to encourage others in the broader perspectives as well as the individual one that we might be concerned about.

A Prayer – Our Father God, as we exercise our responsibilities under You for our brothers and sisters we ask for wisdom to work with them fairly and honestly as we encourage them in a life following your son Jesus Christ. Help us to see each person as a cherished child of Yours. Help us to walk with them in the Christian life and to be frank, fair and understanding in our love and care for them. We ask these things in your son’s name, our Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Glenn

Families, old and new

Today’s (Th 06/04/2017) FDR passages are 1 Chronicles 6 and 1 Corinthians 4.

How are you going with praying through each of the Chronicles chapters that provide a genealogy?  ( I suggested this last week as a way to give thanks to God for these ancient people who connect us to the first family and subsequently the church of Christ.)

Whatever your answer, this chapter 6 provides a different picture.  Here are the worship and priestly families carrying out the most sacred tasks to lead worship and to intercede with God for the people of Israel. Also too  here is a partial picture of worship in David’s and Solomon’s reigns.

These first 15 verses are significant because they link the ancestors of Levi and Aaron, through Zadok to Jehozadak and God’s sending of the people with Jehozadak into exile in Babylon.  This will remind you of God’s promises, that were carried out in the exile, to bring judgement on Israel in its sin and unfaithfulness before God.

Yesterday, Peter (Clark) pointed out to us how Paul chides the Corinthians and this chiding continues in today’s New Testament reading as Paul goes on to deride those who have puffed themselves up. That is, to hold themselves as more important and more of a Christian than they really are.

Timothy is being sent to the Corinthians to carry out a form of remedial teaching.  Paul’s anger at their behaviour shows as finally he asks if he should bring a stick when he comes to them (v21) or a spirit of gentleness.

What are we to conclude?

The ancient family, Israel, was sent away into exile because it could not serve and honour God faithfully.  The new covenant family is to be punished too for becoming ‘puffed up’ and against one another.

Do we understand that God is a God of judgement and punishment in the face of our sinfulness?  Do we understand that God expects us to be obedient to Him and follow the teaching of the Apostles whom Jesus chose to commission?

What do you understand God expects of you and I?

May the Lord show us all where we have fallen down so that we may seek His forgiveness and mercy and walk in His paths.

Glenn

God’s perfect timing …

Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 6:1-7:12 & John 5:16-47

How timely that we find ourselves at this stage in the history of our own church, deep in the passages of 1 Kings where Solomon is building the much awaited temple. This passage about the dwelling place where God would meet with His people is the focus of our FDR, at the very time we as a church community, in July 2016, are celebrating the finalisation on the loan of our own church facility.

For the past 16 years, the leadership at FAC have constantly sought to remind us that our facility has never been about a ‘physical building’ of bricks and mortar. But rather, our building has always been about a place that would be a ‘home base’ for God’s people to gather; a place that would provide a platform for God to work through His people to build His Kingdom through the faithful ministry of a people who seek to have an expanding influence on their city and the nations, with the hope and love of Jesus.

For the people of God during the leadership of Solomon, the building of the temple took a significant time to build … 7 years.

‘The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to the specifications. He had spent seven long years building it.’  6:37-38

Without taking a breath, we then in the next verse, read about how long, and the process it took to build Solomon’s palace; his home versus the home of the Almighty God.

‘It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.’  1 Kings 7:1

First reaction … honest reflection … too big, too long in time and obviously too opulent even for a King and his extended family in comparison to the temple for God; the place where multitudes would gather to worship the almighty God.

Surely God’s dwelling place should have been given a higher level of focus and priority than the earthly king at the time?

But like Solomon, we too are reminded of WHO and WHAT the building is for ….

Bottom line … the building of a building never guarantees God’s ‘ presence’ …

For Solomon it was about obedience to God, and for us … obedience to God …

The word of the Lord came to Solomon: “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep my commands and obey them, I will fulfil through you the promise I gave to David your father.” 1 Kings 6:12

Paul in his letters to the Corinthians reminds them and us today, that our very bodies are far more precious than bricks and mortar as a dwelling place – that they … we are living temples. God might have brought the Israelites out of slavery into the promised land, but through Christ, He bought us.

Don’t you know that you yourself are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?’ 1 Cor 3:16

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body. 1 Cor 6:19

And in re-reading the passage, I am reminded that although Solomon’s living quarters exceeded in size God’s dwelling place, the writer gives a greater level of emphasis to describing the temple than he does the accommodation of a human ruler. How easy it is to get caught up in comparing the fairness of size.

In the same way, our perspective must always be more about how spectacular our amazing God is, rather than being distracted by anything this world might offer in physical grandeur.

My prayer … Heavenly Father, continue to lift my gaze beyond the physical of this world to see beyond the ‘bricks and mortar’ of life, to that which has eternal consequences. Amen

KD